Monday, April 28, 2008

Coastal Commission enables a NEW quarter million pounds of High Level Radioactive Waste each year in California!

April 28th, 2008

Dear Readers,

The California Coastal Commission (CCC) has the opportunity to take the car keys away from a drunk. But they have no intention of doing it.

The drunk is San Onofre Nuclear (Waste) Generating Station, which lies to the media and to the public, which hires executives (and others) who believe they're above the law, and which wants to keep generating enormous quantities of highly radioactive waste for at least another 20 years.

The CCC could stop this, but they claim their hands are tied, and they cannot consider "safety issues" when approving or not (but never "not") each permit request from San Onofre. But each permit is a little piece of the puzzle.

And piece by piece, the reconstruction of Units II and III is now being done, to the tune of an estimated $4 to 5 billion dollars (GULP!) altogether, including $1.2 billion in the past 12 months.

The more work that's completed and the more money that's spent, the more difficult it will be to STOP throwing MORE money into the nuclear cesspool at San Onofre. A lot of the work has yet to be completed, so NOW is a great time to shut these plants down FOREVER. Tomorrow, it will be harder.

The CCC will, instead, bend over BACKWARDS not to do it, but it's all ILLEGAL. They are avoiding a responsibility they CANNOT, legally, avoid.

A valet at a fancy nightclub, who retrieves a car for an obviously-drunk patron, bears a legal responsibility if that person crashes their car and kills an innocent third party. No contract or agreement between the valet and the nightclub patron can absolve the valet of responsibility.

The CCC is trying desperately -- like the valet acting as their own attorney -- to absolve themselves of responsibility entirely, even for the old steam generators, which are irradiated. There is nowhere to put them. The steam generators are not as irradiated as the reactor pressure vessel, let alone the spent fuel, but they are not fit for recycling and should be isolated from humanity for thousands of years. The CCC wishes, instead, to simply ignore them, letting Southern California Edison (SCE) decide how to dispose of them -- apparently letting them sit on the beach forever will be just fine with the CCC.

Instead, the CCC focuses on the new steam generators, which SCE wants to move along the beach after they arrive from Japan, so there's a lot of ink about the damage to the sand, and the mitigation requirements thereof.

But nothing about giving a drunk the keys to the car. The CCC doesn't care that by allowing delivery of the new steam generators, they are enabling the senseless production of millions of pounds of high level radioactive waste (and millions more of so-called low-level, or "diluted" radioactive waste) in California.

In a few years, SCE, the owner of the plant, will go to the various commissions and claim their plants have been rebuilt and are ready to run for another 20 years. A large portion of the plants WILL have been rebuilt, but large portions ALSO will NOT have been.

Vital structures have been irradiated and are failing sooner than expected. That's why the steam generators need replacing in the first place. They leak tritium and other radioactive isotopes into the environment.

Each steam generator has thousands of tubes, and SCE has to plug up each tube that leaks (AFTER it starts leaking, of course -- they have to wait until the next shutdown to fix these things, and they pollute the environment in the meantime).

But when the CCC is asked to rule on the replacement of the steam generators, which were supposed to last the life of the plant EVEN IF the licenses were extended, the CCC claims it cannot take "safety" into consideration!

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proven itself time and again to be a "lap-dog" agency which cannot and will not protect the citizens. (Just Google "Davis-Besse 2002" for one example, or recall that on 9-11, with planes flying OVER Indian Point and NEAR other reactors, the NRC did exactly NOTHING -- they were, in the words of their commissioner, "glued to their television sets, watching events unfold.")

Yet the CCC will hand the car keys to the drunk. If he crashes into somebody -- if the plant melts down -- the CCC does NOT believe they, the commissioners, will have had ANY responsibility. That's what they claim!

But let's examine that claim, because it's false. The most recent example of the claim was made here (I've heard them say it for decades, in EVERY instance involving any nut or bolt at San Onofre or Diablo Canyon. Every single one.):


Claim: "Note: Federal law pre-empts the state from imposing requirements related to nuclear safety or radiation hazards. This report therefore evaluates only those issues necessary to determine conformity to policies of Chapter 3 of the Coastal Act and does not address the issues pre-empted by federal law."

By what maniacal twist of logic did we get from reality to this irrational and UNSUBSTANTIATED claim?

Try, just TRY to get the CCC to tell you where they got the idea that the above paragraph accurately reflects the legal situation. Probably you can't get an answer, but if you manage to get any answer at all from ANY state agency which similarly absolves itself of ALL responsibility for even UNDERSTANDING THE DANGERS OF NUCLEAR POWER, their answer might go approximately like this:

"We are an Agreement State with the Federal Government, so our hands are tied" they'll tell you. An "Agreement State" means that California (and New York, Connecticut, Georgia, and every other state with a nuclear power plant in it) has signed an agreement with the federal government which does, indeed, give SOME authority for such decisions to the Federal Government.


Usually the original agreement was not even with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or the Department of Energy, the two federal agencies which would handle such an agreement today. Rather it was with the Atomic Energy Commission, and hasn't even been reworded or updated to reflect the three-decades-old discrepancy of which agency it is with.

Each state's agreement is different. That's because EACH OF THESE AGREEMENTS IS SLEAZY, ILLOGICAL, AND ILLEGAL and had to be approved over the objections of people in the state legislatures who tried to use various, and different, state constitutional powers to STOP this abdication of responsibility.

But nobody fought too hard, because everybody was told it was UNAMERICAN to fight nuclear power. It wasn't, but that's what they were told. And they also didn't fight too hard to keep their "right to pollute" controlled within the state because very few, if any, legislators knew anything about splitting atoms or the dangers of radioactivity, and if they fought the agreements, they'd have to reveal that fact.

Let's look the actual wording of California's "Agreement." Let's look specifically at the "out" clause which was included. In a legally binding agreement, there is always an "out" clause of some sort. The whole purpose of an "agreement" (as opposed to a fascist dictatorial decision) is to say that one party MUST fulfill certain obligations or the agreement is nullified. Sometimes BOTH parties MUST fulfill various obligations, and if either party fails to do their part, the agreement is nullified, or at least opened to modification - and LEGAL DAMAGES can be sought for breach of contract.

Based on a link from the NRC's own web site, the California agency which actually ceded regulatory authority to the NRC was the Radiologic Health Branch of the Food, Drug, and Radiation Safety Division of the Department of Health Services. But it has been applied to all California agencies, usually willingly on their part.

The pre-emption of state regulatory authority was made in 1962, as described in Section 115230 of the California Health And Safety Code. But Article VIII of the California Health And Safety Code, Section 115235, states the following: "The Commission, upon its own initiative after reasonable notice and opportunity for hearing to the State, or upon request of the Governor of the State, may terminate or suspend this Agreement and reassert the licensing and regulatory authority vested in it under the Act if the Commission finds that such termination or suspension is required to protect the public health and safety." ("The Commission" here referred specifically to the California Resources Agency. See Section 114985 of the Code.)

In Article IX of the same section of the California Health and Safety Code, Section 115235, it is stated that after the agreement takes effect it shall "remain in effect unless, and until such time as it is terminated pursuant to Article VIII."

That clearly says that California MUST take back responsibility for the public health and safety IF the federal agencies to whom such responsibility has been ceded prove themselves incapable of providing for that public health and safety.

How can the State be assured that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (which took over the responsibilities ceded in 1962 to the AEC (Atomic Energy Commission)) is doing its job properly?

In other words, by what mechanism would the State know that the terms of the agreement have been fulfilled?

The answer is, of course, the state MUST provide some level of independent oversight AND, possibly, independent research -- whatever it takes to be sure the NRC, the DOE, and the nuclear industry are properly managed in California.

ANY level of oversight could, conceivably, be argued as being sufficient. But NO OVERSIGHT is unacceptable. And what has happened because of this utter lack of oversight is even more unacceptable.

By claiming safety is not their concern, the CCC is in effect saying to the drunk: "here's your car keys, get in and drive." Without new steam generators, San Onofre cannot continue to operate (with thousands of tubes plugged up, the old steam generators have become too inefficient). The CCC turns a blind eye to reliable reports of cancer clusters around numerous nuclear power facilities INCLUDING SAN ONOFRE, because, they say, they are "pre-empted by federal law."

Even if one ASSUMES the state agencies are pre-empted from ruling directly against the steam generators which will be used to produce poisons which will give our children leukemia (see new item from New Scientist, which is usually rather pro-nuclear, below), they were NEVER pre-empted from THINKING.

They could say, for example, "Because we calculate this project will leave a waste pile on our coast, possibly for hundreds of years, and that same waste pile will have to be moved eventually, at great risk, to be put somewhere where people have been forcibly removed forevermore, we, the commissioners of the CCC, cannot rule in favor of this project. We have not even addressed the "safety" issues we claim we cannot concern ourselves with, but we wish to note that these are serious liabilities for the owners of the plant, and therefore we do not believe SCE can be expected to remain solvent during the life of the radioactive waste, which is millions of years. Therefore, we completely reject this application."

They won't, of course. They'll just say their hands are tied, but they can't produce proof of that, because safety is the ONLY reason they exist. No one can preempt your right to protect yourself and your family from corporate greed. Every law has an "out" that says, basically, "if it's for the greater good, this law can be proven invalid."

For example, in war, you are NOT ALLOWED to obey illegal orders. In business, you cannot sign contracts which require anyone to do anything illegal. And in business, murder is considered illegal, as it should be in government contracts, as well.

Radiation kills. The facts are overwhelming: We have been too lax. Tritium releases and releases of every other radioactive element are too high. The dangers are far greater than anticipated or than admitted to by the nuclear industry. The failure rates due to human error are much higher than "anyone" admitted were possible. The amount of employee sabotage at a typical nuclear power plant these days is alarming, as is the amount of napping on the job, falsifying of records, and so on. Who needs terrorists to cause a meltdown when we have embrittlement problems which are probably far more likely to do so?

But the CCC will ALWAYS SAY their hands are tied. They are preempted from thinking about any of this. They are sorry, but it's outside their jurisdiction. And thank you for your two minutes, they might add. Next speaker, please. Hiccup.


Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

P.S. One more thing to consider: "We face a challenge in ensuring the quality of the thousands of smaller parts and materials that are manufactured in other parts of the world" -- including pumps, valves, motors, fans, pipe "and even bolts," Lyons said. "The close scrutiny that regulatory agencies can enforce on major manufacturers to assure that quality components are produced is challenging to achieve for a vastly greater number of sub-vendors that supply parts and materials to the manufacturers." -- from
("Lyons" is the commissioner of the NRC). Fact: Quality CANNOT BE ASSURED!

The author attended over 100 public hearings on nuclear issues, mostly in California, but has ceased doing so unless they are very local and the participants will be put under oath (which never happens anymore). He has interviewed more than 1000 scientists on nuclear topics and has a collection of approximately 400 nuke-related books. At 51, he is a bladder cancer survivor. He is the webmaster of the Shut San Onofre web site, and others.

New Scientist article: "REASONABLE DOUBT:"

From: Rachel's #956: Bridge at the Edge of the World
From: New Scientist, Apr. 24, 2008


By Ian Fairlie

Among the many environmental concerns surrounding nuclear power
plants, there is one that provokes public anxiety like no other: the
fear that children living near nuclear facilities face an increased
risk of cancer. Though a link has long been suspected, it has never
been proven. Now that seems likely to change.

Studies in the 1980s revealed increased incidences of childhood
leukaemia near nuclear installations at Windscale (now Sellafield),
Burghfield and Dounreay in the UK. Later studies near German nuclear
facilities found a similar effect. The official response was that the
radiation doses from the nearby plants were too low to explain the
increased leukaemia. The Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in
the Environment, which is responsible for advising the UK government,
finally concluded that the explanation remained unknown but was not
likely to be radiation.

There the issue rested, until a recent flurry of epidemiological
studies appeared. Last year, researchers at the Medical University of
South Carolina in Charleston carried out a meta-analysis of 17
research papers covering 136 nuclear sites in the UK, Canada, France,
the US, Germany, Japan and Spain. The incidence of leukaemia in
children under 9 living close to the sites showed an increase of 14 to
21 per cent, while death rates from the disease were raised by 5 to 24
per cent, depending on their proximity to the nuclear facilities
(European Journal of Cancer Care, vol 16, p 355).

This was followed by a German study which found 14 cases of leukaemia
compared to an expected four cases between 1990 and 2005 in children
living within 5 kilometres of the Krummel nuclear plant near Hamburg,
making it the largest leukaemia cluster near a nuclear power plant
anywhere in the world (Environmental Health Perspectives, vol 115, p

This was upstaged by the yet more surprising KiKK studies (a German
acronym for Childhood Cancer in the Vicinity of Nuclear Power Plants),
whose results were published this year in the International Journal
of Cancer (vol 122, p 721) and the European Journal of Cancer (vol
44, p 275). These found higher incidences of cancers and a stronger
association with nuclear installations than all previous reports. The
main findings were a 60 per cent increase in solid cancers and a 117
per cent increase in leukaemia among young children living near all 16
large German nuclear facilities between 1980 and 2003. The most
striking finding was that those who developed cancer lived closer to
nuclear power plants than randomly selected controls. Children living
within 5 kilometres of the plants were more than twice as likely to
contract cancer as those living further away, a finding that has been
accepted by the German government.

Though the KiKK studies received scant attention elsewhere, there was
a public outcry and vocal media debate in Germany. No one is sure of
the cause (or causes) of the extra cancers. Coincidence has been ruled
out, as has the "Kinlen hypothesis", which theorises that childhood
leukaemia is caused by an unknown infectious agent introduced as a
result of an influx of new people to the area concerned. Surprisingly,
the most obvious explanation for this increased risk -- radioactive
discharges from the nearby nuclear installations -- was also ruled out
by the KiKK researchers, who asserted that the radiation doses from
such sources were too low, although the evidence they base this on is
not clear.

Anyone who followed the argument in the 1980s and 1990s concerning the
UK leukaemia clusters will have a sense of deja vu. A report in 2004
by the Committee Examining Radiation Risks of Internal Emitters (2
Mbyte PDF), set up by the UK government (and for which I was a member
of the secretariat) points out that the models used to estimate
radiation doses from sources emitted from nuclear facilities are
riddled with uncertainty. For example, assumptions about how
radioactive material is transported through the environment or taken
up and retained by local residents may be faulty.

If radiation is indeed the cause of the cancers, how might local
residents have been exposed? Most of the reactors in the KiKK study
were pressurised water designs notable for their high emissions of
tritium, the radioactive isotope of hydrogen. Last year, the UK
government published a report on tritium which concluded that its
hazard risk should be doubled. Tritium is most commonly found
incorporated into water molecules, a factor not fully taken into
account in the report, so this could make it even more hazardous.

As we begin to pin down the likely causes, the new evidence of an
association between increased cancers and proximity to nuclear
facilities raises difficult questions. Should pregnant women and young
children be advised to move away from them? Should local residents eat
vegetables from their gardens? And, crucially, shouldn't those
governments around the world who are planning to build more reactors
think again?

Ian Fairlie is a London-based consultant on radiation in the

This newsletter was written by Ace Hoffman:

Quotes collected by Ace Hoffman:

"Nuclear war must be the most carefully avoided topic of general significance in the contemporary world. People are not curious about the details." -- Paul Brians (author; quote is from: Nuclear Holocausts: Atomic War in Fiction)
�When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.� -- Sinclair Lewis (first American Nobel Prize winner in Literature, 2.7.1885 - 1.10.1951)
"There is no such thing as a pro-nuclear environmentalist." -- Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa, 1992)
"Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories." -- Sun Tzu (Chinese general b.500 BC)
"The most intolerable reactor of all may be one which comes successfully to the end of its planned life having produced mountains of radioactive waste for which there is no disposal safe from earthquake damage or sabotage." -- A. Stanley Thompson (a pioneer nuclear physicist who later realized the whole situation)
"Any dose is an overdose." -- Dr. John W. Gofman (another pioneer nuclear physicist who saw the light (9.21.1918 - 8.15.2007))
"Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought. To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears. To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool. To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen. To be led by a liar is to ask to be lied to. To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery." -- Octavia Butler (science fiction writer, 7.22.1947 - 2.24.2006)
"If you want real welfare reform, you focus on a good education, good health care, and a good job.

If you want to reduce poverty, you focus on a good education, good healthcare, and a good job.

If you want a stable middle class, you focus on a good education, good health care, and a good job.

If you want to have citizens who can participate in democracy, you focus on a good education, good health care, and a good job.

And if you want to end the violence, you could build a million new prisons and you could fill them up, but you never end this cycle of violence unless you invest in the health and the skill and the intellect and the character of our children. you focus on a good education, good health care and a good job.

And other than that, I don't feel strongly about anything."

-- Paul Wellstone (US Senator, D-Minnesota, 7.21.1944 - 10.25.2002)
"There are no warlike peoples - just warlike leaders." -- Ralph Bunche (8.7.1903 - 12.9.1971)
"Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God." -- Thomas Jefferson
"Please send this to everyone you know!" -- Ace Hoffman (original collector of the above quotes, January, 2008)

This email was sent by:

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Re: [Hanford] Digest Number 1578 -- Mother Jones should be ashamed.

April 27th, 2008

Dear Readers,

Paige Knight, who forwarded Judith Lewis's Mother Jones article (shown below) to the Hanford list, is wrong -- the article is EXTREMELY BIASED, not "extremely informative."

Judith Lewis's article reaches a totally pro-nuclear conclusion, but she is trying to be very subtle about it. Her article tries to leave the impression that she's presented a balanced report of the arguments for and against nuclear power, and that nuclear power, for all its faults, IS the environmental solution of choice for electricity in America. The article is designed to make the reader feel that the tide has turned, but that the author understands the dangers of nuclear power and would reject it if only there were a good reason, which, try as she might, she can't find.

I met Ms Lewis about 5 years ago when Lewis was just starting out writing about nuclear issues and I had been studying them for about 35 years. If you know enough facts about each case she brings up, Lewis's bias, which has not changed in years, is obvious: Lewis believes a nuclear renaissance is coming, and she denigrates those who oppose it. Time after time she presents two opposing quotes. What could be more objective? But time after time she filters the presentation so that the pro-nuclear view has more weight and the PERSON giving the anti-nuclear view sounds indecisive, unscientific, or worse.

Judith Lewis supports The Dark Side -- the chaos of the Demon Hot Atom -- but doesn't' want you (or MJ's editors) to realize she's biased. She does not belong in the media -- period. Let alone, writing for Mother Jones. Perhaps there are still some media outlets where such opinionated articles can flourish. Shame on them, too -- but surely Mother Jones should not be one of them. MJ should be ashamed at the depths to which it has sunk.

Let's look at some of the claims Lewis has let pro-nukers make in her article:

1) Claim: Enrollment in university nuke programs is way up.

Fact: There might be a slight up-tick at the smaller number of universities which still offer courses in nuke operations and theory, because those universities are getting funding directly from the nuclear industry to train worker-bees. (My local nuclear power plant is funding 48 such full scholarships (with tuition, room & board, and summer internships at the plant) this year alone at ONE local college, and probably others.) But as the saying goes, "nobody goes there anymore." For every nuclear engineering student you can probably find 1000 brighter kids who realized that the nuclear industry was an evil industry with a bleak future. They went into building energy-efficient wind turbines and things, instead, for example, despite the challenge because of lack of government funding (it almost all goes to nuclear). Or they built the Internet, with a little help from DARPA.

2) Claim: "When rising seas flood our coasts, the idea of producing electricity from the most terrifying force ever harnessed may not seem so frightening - or expensive - after all." (last sentence in the article).

Fact: With sea rises come more violent storms, and more nuclear power plants will have to be closed -- AND THEIR FUEL MOVED -- because they are on the coast. Per watt of delivered energy, nuclear power produces more HEAT (which the planet MUST somehow absorb) than any other form of electricity. And the nuclear fuel cycle is so fossil-fuel intensive (as are the lives of the 1500 or so plant workers for each power plant, and their families) that the whole idea of nukes as being a solution to greenhouse gasses is ridiculous, if not actually laughable -- and yet Lewis ends her article in Mother Jones with just such a claim!

3) Claim: America's nukes won't burn like Chernobyl did, so at least we don't have to worry about that.

Fact: Our dry casks can burn rather easily, and so can the rest of it -- it's just a little harder than it was for Chernobyl, that's all. And we're currently creating a new dry cask at the rate of about one per week, day in and day out. But if we build more nukes, that number will rise. Any one of the casks can be accidentally lit on fire by an airliner crashing into it, and that one cask would be about as damaging to the planet as Chernobyl was -- and there are fields of these casks all in a row, ready for a terrorist attack OR an earthquake, tsunami (many are along the coast), or other natural catastrophe, or, given enough time, simple metal fatigue. Dry casks are EXTREMELY dangerous but Ms Lewis would have us believe Americans are safe from a Chernobyl-style catastrophe. Rubbish. The reactor differences only seem extreme to extreme engineers. To the rest of us, the differences are little more than subtle nuances. And yes, I've read books and books on both TMI and Chernobyl.

4) Claim: " France's eager embrace of nuclear technology has yielded some spectacular benefits."

Fact: Aside from the French solution to the waste problem (grind it up and dump it in the sea), and their use of their armed forces and international police forces to disrupt the peaceful protest and right to assemble of pro-DNA activists, France is also the leader in exporting nuclear industrial espionage -- to America. France, through their government-owned corporation AREVA, has purchased American nuclear manufacturer Westinghouse, just so they (AREVA) can claim to be "America's energy company" in endlessly-repeated obnoxious ads on CNN. A lie repeated often enough, as Lewis clearly knows, starts to sound like the truth to the uninformed.

5) Claim: "Will a nuclear reactor operating under normal conditions give you cancer? It's a question that, surprisingly, still hasn't been conclusively answered. "

Fact: Joe Mangano's newest book ("Radioactive Baby Teeth: The Cancer Link") is about what's really going on in the field of peer-reviewed epidemiological research about radiation. And what's going on is that there are clear statistical relationships, correlations, match-ups, which scientists agree are "significant" -- that is, worthy of publishing in peer-reviewed journals. Is it "conclusive" proof? On top of everything else? Absolutely -- the case had ALREADY been won -- the National Academy of Sciences has clearly stated that there is NO safe radiation dose. And by themselves, Mangano's studies would be cause for alarm, indeed -- and that's exactly what they are causing. The baby tooth project is producing what is known in science as credible evidence -- that's what the book is all about. AND, it should be mentioned that if someone studies cancer death rates instead of cancer incidence rates, you get an additional layer of bias, which Mangano discusses, but which Lewis ignores. The "peer reviewed" studies Lewis cited before denigrating Mangano's studies (which she fails to mention were ALSO peer-reviewed) do not prove that radiation is safe.

I wonder what plagues Lewis would have missed in the past? The Black Plague? "A slight cold has put a few people out" she might have written. And, Lewis should stop listening to Rochelle Becker, who has proven time and again that she's not planning on winning ANY battles against nuclear power any time soon.

There's no question that Lewis is FOR nuclear power. From her inability to respect Dr. Caldicott as a leading scientist on nuclear issues (instead she's referred to as a "godmother" to the movement) to Lewis's inability to distinguish pro-nuke movement infiltrators like Rochelle Becker from REAL activists like Dan Hirsch, whom she derides (but I'll bet she'll claim she doesn't), Lewis is simply out of the loop. Lewis has had YEARS to get a handle on reality (see my earlier criticisms of her first major nuke article). But evidently not only can't she do it, she's suckered Mother Jones into publishing her crafty endorsement of a failed technology with a dismal future.

Perhaps Lewis believes that by mentioning an unsolvable problem in her articles, she has tackled the issue fairly, as long as she says it's been solved in France or it's being worked on, or something is moving forward or someone disagrees that it is an Achilles' heel (ANOTHER Achilles' heel). And she certainly believes that the wishy-washy statements of the nuclear "enablers" at the UUCS (Union of UnConcerned Scientists) represent all reasonable opposition to nuclear power. It does not, and I doubt the statements of the two prime nuclear UUCS spokespeople even reflect the beliefs of the majority of their members. At least, I hope not.

The truth is, the opponents to nuclear power WON all the debates they've ever had. They win them now, and they won them long, long ago. Open, public debate is squelched throughout the planet on this issue, but millions of people oppose nuclear power all around the world. Public and government policy just has to catch up with reason, that's all that's left to happen. Okay, and some scientists need to widen the breadth of their research, to see the damage THEY are doing by supporting nuclear power. But the reality is: Nuclear power's future is utterly bleak, or the human races' future is. There is NO middle ground. So far, Lewis sides with the cancer enablers.

Judith Lewis and Mother Jones should probably BOTH get out of the environmental news business, where, clearly, they do not belong. Shame on Ms Lewis. Shame on Mother Jones.


Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

At 05:12 PM 4/26/2008 +0000, [Hanford] Digest Number 1578 wrote:

Subject: [Hanford] Digest Number 1578

There is 1 message in this issue.

Topics in this digest:

1. The Nuclear Option by Judith Lewis

1. The Nuclear Option by Judith Lewis
Posted by: ""
Date: Fri Apr 25, 2008 10:09 pm ((PDT))

This is a long article but extremely informative as the government attempts a resurgence of the nuclear power industry. Paige
The Nuclear Option
By Judith Lewis
Mother Jones
May/June 2008 Issue
So you're against nuclear power. Do you know why?
A decade and a year after Enrico Fermi demonstrated the first atomic fission chain reaction, President Dwight D. Eisenhower went before the United Nations General Assembly to avert an apocalypse. Other nations now had in their hands the weapon with which the United States had pulverized two Japanese cities; altruistic scientists and eager investors both had pressured the president to share the technology for peaceful uses. And so Eisenhower had little choice on that December day in 1953 but to announce a new purpose for the force inside the atom: Properly monitored and generously financed, he declared in his "Atoms for Peace" address, fission could be harnessed "to provide abundant electrical energy in the power-starved areas of the world."
You could have been forgiven for thinking the president and his advisers had just hatched the notion that month, so full of poetic wonder and portent was that speech. In fact, not only were the Soviets about to power up a five-megawatt reactor, but the Westinghouse Electric Corporation was well on its way to building the country's first commercial atomic power plant. Within five years, the Shippingport Atomic Power Station would begin sending its 60 megawatts of electricity to the city of Pittsburgh.
That was probably about the best atomic power ever looked. For it wasn't long before the electricity touted as "too cheap to meter" proved too pricey for profit: The power that came out of Shippingport cost 10 times the going rate. Though in the coming years many more reactors would be hitched to the nation's grid, Eisenhower's gallant dreams were undone by rising construction costs, high maintenance bills, and risk. The last application for a new nuclear plant was withdrawn in 1978. By the time Three Mile Island nearly melted down in 1979, the United States was through with nuclear-generated electricity.
Until now.
When President George W. Bush celebrated the Energy Policy Act of 2005 at the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant in Maryland, he may as well have been delivering the 21st-century update of Eisenhower's 1953 manifesto, minus the poetry, and plus some dopey jokes. ("Pass the Mayo," he chirped to Constellation Energy CEO Mayo Shattuck.) This time, however, the marketing slogan was not about peace, but the very future of the planet. "Without these nuclear plants," Bush said, "America would release nearly 700 million metric tons more carbon dioxide into the air each year." Half a century after Shippingport powered up, the U.S. government has once again entwined its long fingers under the heel of the big industry that couldn't.
In his day, Eisenhower shared his vision with a number of vocal pacifists: Redirecting atomic power to electricity, they believed, would at least keep the military occupied with something other than blowing up cities. And Bush shares his vision with some prominent environmentalists: Stewart Brand, for instance, who founded the Whole Earth Catalog and Fred Krupp, the director of the Environmental Defense Fund, who believes that "the challenge of global warming is so urgent we can't afford to take anything off the table."
As far back as 1978, Tom Alexander - an award-winning science writer with a deep knowledge of economics and ecology - urged utilities in the pages of Fortune to resuscitate the already-flagging nuclear industry lest a ramp-up in coal-fired electricity "trigger irreversible changes in the world's climate." The ramp-up happened on schedule; the changes in climate too. Which now makes it very hard to ignore the fact that whatever else nuclear power does to the environment, however many fish it kills or however much waste it leaves in our great-great-great-great-grandchildren's hands, it emits neither soot nor smoke nor mercury, and far less carbon dioxide than the coal that keeps most of our lights on.
Industry has been quick to take advantage of the shifting political climate: Last year, UniStar submitted an application for a new nuclear reactor to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the first to cross the agency's desk since Jimmy Carter was president. Four more followed, and 14 separate companies have notified the agency that they will file applications in the next year. It's hard to imagine any of the current presidential candidates slashing nuclear subsidies once in office. (Senator Barack Obama, for one, represents a state with 11 of the nation's 104 civilian reactors, and his donors include employees of nuclear giant Exelon.)
But can nuclear power really rescue our warming planet? And if you answered quickly, answer this too: Are you for or against because you know the science, or because someone said you should be?
When we talk about nuclear power these days, we talk about environmentalists for nukes, and about people posing as environmentalists for nukes. We talk about Dick Cheney's energy bill defibrillating a faltering industry with $12 billion worth of incentives and tax breaks. We talk about who is for and who is against, and whether we can trust them.
But no one talks about fission. No one talks about the letter Albert Einstein wrote to FDR in 1939, advising the president that "it may become possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium" to produce enormous amounts of power. No one mentions that breathtaking moment on December 2, 1942, when Fermi, on a squash court at the University of Chicago, had an assistant slowly pull a control rod from a pile of uranium and graphite, sustaining a controlled chain reaction for 28 minutes and thus securing atomic power's industrial future.
For the last four years, I have tried to shut out the chatter - the goofy Nuclear Energy Institute ad (girl on a scooter says, "Our generation is demanding lots of electricity ... and clean air."), and the warnings of No Nukes godmother Helen Caldicott, who, rightly or wrongly, cannot think of splitting atoms without thinking of weapons. I've tried to focus instead on the awesome force that binds the nucleus and whether it can ever be an appropriate source of civilian energy.
The idea of nuclear power arose more than half a century ago out of the most noble impulses of humanity's brightest minds, scientists who hoped that the destructive force they'd harnessed, the most concentrated source of energy on earth, could also be applied for good. But atomic electricity strayed so far from its promise - corrupted by government's collusion with industry, mismanagement for the sake of profit, and ordinary bureaucratic incompetence - that we seem flummoxed at the thought of ever reclaiming it.
To consider a technology as terrifying as nuclear power requires more than slogans. It requires looking beyond the marketing and activism, into the physics and its consequences. It means thinking about rocks. And waste. And fission.
Hot Rocks, Warm Water
Like so many sources of energy, nuclear power begins with a rock - a brownish chunk of hard dirt, flecked with glittery particles. You can hold uranium in your hand without much trouble: As it decays into other elements - thorium, radium, and eventually lead - it throws off radioactive particles, but most of them can't penetrate your skin. Nor can they sustain a controlled chain reaction in most of the world's nuclear reactors. For that, you need a certain neutron-rich uranium isotope, U-235, which makes up only a tiny portion of raw uranium ore.
Natural uranium comes out of the ground in Canada, Australia, Niger, and several other countries. Uranium is finite, and it's not easy to find - as a consequence of the impending nuclear revival, mines that were once declared unprofitable may open once again, including some in the western United States. This worries people who remember the last uranium boom in the Southwest: From the 1940s through the 1980s, more than 15,000 men, many of them Navajo, worked the mines, often without protection. Many eventually came down with cancer or respiratory diseases. Few were compensated. When the mines closed, piles of uranium tailings were left mouldering along the Colorado River, leaching at least 15,000 gallons of toxic chemicals a day into water destined for taps in Arizona and California.
To be useful as nuclear fuel, uranium ore has to be refined into uranium oxide (the yellowcake of Niger fame) and then enriched - turned into pellets of 4 percent U-235. The sole U.S. plant that enriches uranium for civilian power reactors, located in Paducah, Kentucky, accomplishes this via an energy-hogging process that consumes 15 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year. Even so, carbon emissions for the entire nuclear fuel cycle come to no more than 55 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour - roughly even with solar. By 2010, when the U.S. Enrichment Corporation is slated to switch to the more efficient method used in Europe, that number should come down closer to 12 grams per kilowatt-hour - on par with wind.
Nuclear power does have other environmental consequences, drawbacks that have nothing to do with carbon: Aside from radiation (more on that later), a particularly delicate one involves cooling water. "Light water" reactors, used at the majority of the world's nuclear plants (so named because they employ ordinary H2O, as opposed to water made with a heavy hydrogen isotope), use water both to moderate the chain reaction and produce steam to spin turbines - 2 billion gallons per day on average. Most of it returns to the adjoining river, lake, or ocean up to 25 degrees warmer, an ecological impact that could significantly interfere with nuclear power's chances as a climate-change solution. Already, wherever a light-water reactor sits near a sensitive body of water, its intake pipes kill fish and its outflow distorts ecosystems to favor warm-water species.
The Cancer Conundrum
Will a nuclear reactor operating under normal conditions give you cancer? It's a question that, surprisingly, still hasn't been conclusively answered. A 1995 Greenpeace study found an increase in breast-cancer mortality among women living near various U.S. and Canadian reactors in the Great Lakes region. Yet peer-reviewed studies by the Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation as well as the National Cancer Institute show no significant increase in cancer among people living near reactors. An initiative called the Tooth Fairy Project is currently trying to prove that concentrations of the radioactive isotope strontium-90 are higher in baby teeth from children who grow up near nuclear plants. But those tests are not complete, and no one else has turned up persuasive evidence of such a link.
"Without a baseline study, we don't have any credibility" on the cancer issue, longtime Southern California anti-nuclear activist Rochelle Becker once told me. "There are so many things wrong with the nuclear industry that are confirmable that we try to stay away from that."
We do know that nuclear plants routinely release small amounts of radioactive gases, and that those releases expose nearby residents to a small dose of radiation - one that the Health Physics Society, which governs radiation measurements, says will probably not increase their risk of getting cancer. We know that elevated levels of radioactive tritium - which gets into water and is easily ingested - have been found downstream from nuclear facilities, and we know that the scientific consensus holds that no amount of radiation is good for you.
But we also know this: 24,000 Americans per year die of diseases related to emissions from coal-fired power plants, which release sulfur dioxide, smog-forming nitrogen, toxic soot, and mercury - not to mention 2.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually.
It's a devil of a dilemma: One source of always-on "base load" power kills people every day. Another kills people only if something goes terribly wrong. And it could.
Accidents Happen
Early in the morning of March 28, 1979, a combination of malfunctioning equipment and inadequately trained workers led to a loss-of-coolant episode at Three Mile Island Unit 2 near Middletown, Pennsylvania. Had workers not finally arrested the disaster 10 hours after it started, the fuel inside the reactor could have melted completely - the disaster scenario alluded to in the movie The China Syndrome, which had arrived in theaters just a few weeks before. The partial meltdown and subsequent radiation leak was the worst nuclear accident ever on U.S. soil; in its wake, public support for the technology dropped from 70 to 50 percent, where it remains today. Industry proponents claim that no one died as a direct result of the accident, and in 1990, a Columbia University study found no elevated radiation-related cancer risk in the population near the plant. A later study, though, found a tenfold increase in cancer among the people who lived in the path of the radioactive plume.
Because of Three Mile Island, the night crew performing an ill-advised test at the Chernobyl plant on April 26, 1986, might have been prepared for a loss-of-coolant episode. But they didn't know enough about the plant they were tinkering with to have an idea what to do when things went grievously wrong. The reactor exploded, and the fire spewed a massive cloud of radiation across Europe.
There are no reactors as fire-prone as Chernobyl in the United States, and reactor safeguards have been upgraded dramatically since Three Mile Island. Emer gency core-cooling systems kick in if other systems fail; operators have been trained to respond promptly when something goes awry. But just because what has already happened may not happen again doesn't mean we should relax: Human error has infinite permutations, and near misses in the last decade have shown just how vulnerable reactors remain.
In March 2002, during a scheduled refueling outage at the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Ohio, workers discovered that boric acid deposits had gnawed a "pineapple-sized" hole into the six-inch-thick steel cap bolted to the top of the reactor. Had the corrosion gone just a third of an inch deeper, radioactive steam would have flooded the containment dome, and Davis-Besse might have been the next Three Mile Island.
As frightening as the near-accident was the way Davis-Besse owners FirstEnergy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission responded: by soft-pedaling procedural flaws and scapegoating plant workers, in particular Andrew Siemaszko, a systems engineer who they claimed had failed to report the corrosion. The NRC has since barred Siemaszko from working in the nuclear industry, and in 2006 he was indicted on five counts of lying to the government and falsifying records. But documents show that Siemaszko repeatedly told his employers the reactor head needed a thorough cleaning. FirstEnergy didn't complete that job because it was taking too long (keeping the reactor idle was costing the company $1 million a day) - and the NRC delayed a scheduled inspection of the reactor at FirstEnergy's request.
Watchdog or Lapdog?
The Davis-Besse incident puts into sharp relief a history of regulatory neglect that goes back for decades. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has counted 47 incidents since 1979 in which the NRC failed to adequately address issues at nuclear power plants - until the troubles got so bad the plants had to be shut down for repairs. In some cases, "the NRC allowed reactors with known safety problems to continue operating for months, sometimes years, without requiring owners to fix the problems."
There's evidence, too, that the commission has tolerated serious lapses in security, even after 9/11. In March 2007, an anonymous whistleblower wrote a letter to the NRC claiming that guards at Exelon's Peach Bottom plant in Pennsylvania were "coming into work exhausted after working excessive overtime" and thus "sleeping on duty at an alarming rate." The NRC ignored the letter until a guard videotaped the naps in progress and WCBS in New York aired the tape. The Project on Government Oversight claims a skilled infiltrator would need just 45 seconds to penetrate the area where Peach Bottom stores its spent fuel.
The corporation that provides those sleepy guards, Wackenhut, has also been accused of cheating on security exercises: One DOE inspector general's report found that in 2003 guards had been tipped off in advance about security drills at a government nuclear facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The same year, Wackenhut was fired from Entergy's Indian Point plant in New York after guards there admitted they had been improperly armed and trained.
Critics often point out that the NRC is funded by industry fees; despite his cautious support of nuclear power, Obama declared it "a moribund agency...captive of the industries that it regulates." (NRC spokesman Scott Burnell insists that because those fees come to the NRC through the U.S. Treasury, there's no conflict of interest. "It's not a case where the industry is handing us a check," he says.)
Dave Lochbaum, UCS's nuclear-safety expert, believes the problem at the NRC is a lack of money - and congressional attention. "There have been more hearings on lunches in the White House," he notes, "than on whether the NRC's doing a good job."
The French Connection
Just as there are arguments against public investment in nuclear power, there are arguments for it - and one huge living example. France shifted from oil-burning electric plants to nuclear during the oil crisis of the early '70s, and over the past 20 years it has invested $160 billion in nuclear programs, making the country the largest exporter of nuclear electricity in the European Union. Sixteen percent of the world's nuclear power is generated in France. And where once the French were buying nuclear technology from the United States, now it's the other way round: 6 of the 20 applications expected to be submitted to the NRC before 2010 are for the U.S. Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR) designed by the French conglomerate Areva.
Instead of just two coolant loops like the traditional "Generation II" reactor, the EPR has four. If one leaks, another kicks in: No more Three Mile Islands. "The EPR has more defensive depth than reactors created for the U.S. market," acknowledges Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist at the UCS.
His cautious approval of the EPR is significant: Two years ago, Dan Hirsch of the anti-nuclear group Committee to Bridge the Gap warned me not to make too much of the alleged environmentalist enthusiasm for nuclear power. "All of the people supporting it now supported it before," he argued. "It's not news. But when the Union of Concerned Scientists comes out in favor of nuclear, now that will be news."
That hasn't happened exactly: The UCS remains ambivalent about nuclear power, and its position papers reflect deep worries about the technology. But as far as the UCS is capable of liking a reactor, it likes the EPR.
Lyman stresses that the EPR's improved safety doesn't mean that Areva "is a warm and fuzzy company." It only means it designed the EPR to meet the safety standards of the European Union, which happen to be better than ours. "The NRC's whole presumption is that the current reactors are safe enough," Lyman explains. "The NRC is afraid that if it makes too much fuss about how the new ones are safer than old ones, it will mean that the old ones aren't safe enough.
"An opportunity is being squandered," he adds. "If this renaissance is going to happen, you're going to build a new fleet of reactors to last 60, 80, 100 years. Why not lock in a safer reactor design?"
The $50 Billion Question
In 1960, the price of a brand-new light-water reactor hovered around $68 million, just under what it cost to build a new coal plant at the time. (Actual costs were often higher, but eager manufacturers offered "turnkey" plants at a fixed price, absorbing any overruns.) Having recouped their start-up costs, these older reactors now produce electricity - a fifth of the country's power, all in all - at prices that easily compete with coal. But a new plant will have a harder time breaking even: An Areva reactor may start at $3 or $4 billion, already twice as much as a coal plant, but actual construction costs and interest will probably boost total plant cost to $9 billion.
Which is why not a single one will get built without help from the government, says Craig Nesbit of Chicago-based Exelon. "These are huge capital projects," he says. "The largest capital projects on a private scale you can build. We wouldn't be building them without loan guarantees." Nuclear lobbyists have been asking for $50 billion in such guarantees, which, they point out, are given to other industries, including wind and solar: "There's nothing exotic about it," Nesbit says. Companies also want "production tax credits" for the actual power they generate, on the order of a penny or two per kilowatt, also akin to wind energy. So far, Congress has pledged up to $6 billion worth of production tax credits for new nuclear plants. But in 2007, it capped loan guarantees for plant construction at $18.5 billion - scarcely enough to fund a couple of reactors. "We considered that a win for our side," says anti-nuclear activist Becker.
The industry does get another massive taxpayer-funded benefit, however: Since 1957, plant operators have been protected by the Price-Anderson Act, which limits their liability in a catastrophic accident. The 2005 energy bill updated the act, which required reactor operators to carry insurance policies worth $300 million and contribute $95 million to an accident compensation fund. The rest is covered by taxpayers - not a bad deal, considering that it cost $1 billion to clean up after Three Mile Island.
The debate over whether nuclear power deserves this kind of public investment is second only to the debate over whether reactors can ever be safe. Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute, long a foe of nuclear power, argues that "about three-quarters of all electricity we use in North America can be saved cheaper than just running a coal or nuclear plant, even if the capital costs of the plant were zero." Lovins has argued for 30 years that redirecting nuclear investments toward energy efficiency, solar, wind, or tiny gas turbines that could be located in every neighborhood would yield carbon-free power much faster, without the federally mandated insurance policy. Nuclear power, he's famously said, "is like cutting butter with a chainsaw."
But wind and solar have still not fully conquered their intermittency issues: Wind power works only when the wind blows; solar panels are no good at night. "Distributed micropower" could make progress fast; efficiency would do even better; and we should look forward to the day when they put the mammoth, centralized energy providers that feed our national grid out of business. But given the current economic structure of our energy market, can any of those things quickly replace coal? And how fast? Barring a president who can infuse us with the political will to roll out a Jimmy Carter-style conservation plan, electricity demand will continue to rise. We may be stuck with our devil of a dilemma.
Wasted Promise
The Atomic Age has left behind many kinds of radioactive garbage, from the rags that mopped up hot spills to the concrete from decommissioned reactors to the liquid residue of plutonium warheads. Some is low-level waste, already tucked away in various locations, from Hanford in southwestern Washington state to Barnwellin South Carolina. The waste fuel from nuclear reactors is high-level stuff that will remain dangerously radioactive for millions of years. In volume it's not that much: All the detritus from a half-century of civilian nuclear power "can fit on a football field piled six meters high," says Harold McFarlane, deputy associate laboratory director for nuclear programs at Idaho National Laboratory. "It grows at about three yards a year [in length]." But we still have no place to put it.
Since Congress in 1987 picked Yucca Mountain as the repository for the country's high-level waste, the state of Nevada has sued several times to block it, mostly on the grounds that the Department of Energy relied on bad science to select the spot: Among other things, an earthquake fault runs under it, and water percolates through the porous volcanic tuff. (When I visited after a wet desert winter in 2005, Yucca - which the feds have always characterized as arid - was positively green.)
The repository's most recent opening date was set for 2017. But that date "is clearly out the window," says Ward Sproat, who directs the Yucca project for the DOE. "Based on what I'm seeing right now it's a two- to three-year slip from that." Others predict that the $11 billion facility won't open at all. Still, the DOE has announced that it will file its long-awaited license application in June. For now, nearly all the nation's spent-fuel assemblies sit at individual reactor sites in water-filled basins about the size of swimming pools but 30 feet deeper, and reinforced with concrete. Most of the pools are close to full and, according to a 2002 report by the National Academy of Sciences, vulnerable to terrorist attack.
If Yucca Mountain ever does open, another perplexing problem emerges: transporting waste from the 200-plus reactors around the country. Trains can come off their rails; sabotage and hijackings happen. According to a map the state of Nevada circulates, only the Dakotas, Montana, and Rhode Island lie outside planned nuclear waste transportation routes.
DOE spokesman Allen Benson, who gives tours of Yucca Mountain to journalists, contends that "we've been shipping nuclear waste around the country since the beginning of the atomic age." Still, the DOE intends to build a dedicated rail line 300 miles into the Nevada desert and instruct residents along its route in how to respond to emergencies. Everyone along the route will know where those trains are going. And what they carry.
Dirty Recycling
So why don't we do like they do in France, where they recycle the fuel from their own 59 reactors, along with some from other countries, into neat little piles of useful radionuclides? By dissolving nuclear waste in acids and separating the isotopes, they can reduce 20 years' waste from a family of four's electricity use to a glasslike nugget the size of a cigarette lighter.
France's eager embrace of nuclear technology has yielded some spectacular benefits. The country, which relies on nuclear for nearly 80 percent of its electricity, emits only two tons of carbon dioxide per person per year, less than half the U.S. load. But its reprocessing operations, as with Britain's notoriously leaky site at Sellafield, have racked up such a roster of problems that in the United States they'd be shut down as gross violators of the Clean Water Act. Every year Areva, the French conglomerate that handles reprocessing, dumps so much radioactive liquid into the Channel that, says Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists, "there are certain beaches where the effluent pipe is where you can get a suntan at night.
"I'm not going to say the French are 'no blood, no foul,'" Lochbaum told me, "but they're not quite as concerned about effluents as we are. They tend to believe more in 'the solution to pollution is dilution.'" They are, however, in violation of European Union pollution regulations - largely because the waste contains the dangerous isotope technetium, which so far no one has found a way to remove.
"Ten European governments have come together to get them to stop, saying, 'You're polluting all the way to the Arctic,'" says Arjun Makhijani of the watchdog group Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. "But they haven't stopped. They haven't stopped because there's no way for them to stop."
The dumping has grim consequences. In 1997, researchers surveying children and young people who lived near the Normandy Coast town of La Hague where reprocessing takes place found a correlation between beach visits and leukemia risk. Yet Areva continues to argue that its operations have "zero impact" on the environment.
In addition to pollution problems, the reprocessing of nuclear waste isolates plutonium. Currently, France has 80 tons of it socked away, enough to make 10,000 nuclear bombs. "They store it in what looks like 11,000 sugar cans," says Makhijani. "It's a huge security issue." In 1974, India made its first nuclear bomb with plutonium skimmed off reprocessed nuclear waste. For that reason, President Gerald Ford placed a temporary hold on the technology in 1976, a hold President Carter turned into a ban.
Nevertheless, the 2009 federal budget request includes $301.5 million for research into reprocessing technologies. For a nuclear future to flower, industry executives want assurances that the waste problem won't continue to haunt them. "Unless we see a clear path," says Exelon's Craig Nesbit, "we don't believe that we or anyone else should be building new nuclear plants. We don't think it's right to saddle a community with more high-level spent fuel than already exists."
Breeding Reactors
In his 1974 book The Curve of Binding Energy, John McPhee speculated that by the end of the 20th century, reactors using nuclear fusion - the kind of reaction that powers the sun - would be in operation, "and the energy crisis will cease to be a crisis for many millions of years."
Okay, so that hasn't happened. But what if a nuclear reactor could be invented that was safe, sustainable, and clean, even using plain old fission? What if it could reuse spent fuel until it was no longer dangerous, curtailing the pesky problems of waste, mining, and a finite uranium supply all at once?
These are the questions du jour of research facilities around the world, places like Idaho National Laboratory, which sprawls over 890 square miles of desert land bounded by some of America's most prized national parks. In the 1950s and '60s, it was a bustling facility, drawing the best in young talent from the world's science academies. Now, says nuclear programs director Harold McFarlane, the lab - which has expanded into other fields, such as biotechnology and alternative energy - is back full bore in the nuclear business, bolstered by federal programs to encourage the development of "Generation IV" reactors. (The 2009 budget request includes $70 million for such programs.)
One reactor in the offing, the Next Generation Nuclear Plant, can be cooled with helium instead of water and might be capable of producing industrial hydrogen to power emission-free cars and other power plants. Another, the Advanced Fast Reactor, can burn up the radioactive elements that remain behind in a light-water reactor. Other countries - India, China, South Africa - are working on their own prototypes. "There's also a great deal of interest in designing smaller reactors for developing nations," McFarlane says, "anywhere from 20 megawatts to 600 megawatts, to provide distributed power to outlying areas."
McFarlane has noticed that nuclear engineering has become a hot major in college again. "We're seeing a fantastic increase in undergraduate enrollment," he says. "A lot of universities are reinstating nuclear engineering programs they dropped back in the '80s and '90s."
The Ultimatum
When Tom Alexander recommended nuclear power as a hedge against climate catastrophe 30 years ago, he did so not because it was perfect, but because he thought that with better information its imperfections could be addressed. He was no industry shill; he also blasted the Reagan administration for blowing $10 billion on a badly conceived uranium-enrichment plant, and the government in general, whose "inability to untangle its licensing, fuel, and waste-storage policies has all but destroyed the electrical companies' brief infatuation with nuclear power." As with the early proponents of nuclear power (who in the 1940s staged sit-ins and hunger strikes to call for the "peaceful uses of atomic fission"), Alexander believed that there was a way to apply atomic technology against poverty, environmental collapse, and certain doom.
Alexander died in 2005 at the age of 74, never writing one last story to say he told us so: We shouldn't have built so many coal plants. And just maybe, instead of destroying that "brief infatuation with nuclear power," we should have fixed the nuclear industry instead.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns of global mayhem should we fail to cut our carbon emissions in half by midcentury. For nuclear power to make a significant dent in the U.S. carbon footprint, the Colorado-based Keystone Center for Science and Public Policy reported last year, we would have to build five new 1,000 megawatt reactors every year for the next half-century.
"The world we have made as a result of a level of thinking we have done thus far creates problems we cannot solve at the same level at which we created them," said Albert Einstein. In other words, we have driven ourselves into a technological quagmire. There is no easy route back, but there may be many paths forward. Nuclear power is expensive, flawed, dangerous, and finicky; it depends on humans to run properly, and when those humans err, the consequences are worse than the worst accident involving any other energy source. If there isn't a way to do it right, let's abandon it - but only because we're secure in the belief that we can replace coal-fired electricity with energy from the wind, the sun, and the earth. When rising seas flood our coasts, the idea of producing electricity from the most terrifying force ever harnessed may not seem so frightening - or expensive - after all.

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The above review of Judith Lewis's article in the May/June 2008 Issue of Mother Jones (also shown above) was written by Ace Hoffman.

Quotes collected by Ace Hoffman:

"Nuclear war must be the most carefully avoided topic of general significance in the contemporary world. People are not curious about the details." -- Paul Brians (author; quote is from: Nuclear Holocausts: Atomic War in Fiction)
"When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." -- Sinclair Lewis (first American Nobel Prize winner in Literature, 2.7.1885 - 1.10.1951)
"There is no such thing as a pro-nuclear environmentalist." -- Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa, 1992)
"Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories." -- Sun Tzu (Chinese general b.500 BC)
"The most intolerable reactor of all may be one which comes successfully to the end of its planned life having produced mountains of radioactive waste for which there is no disposal safe from earthquake damage or sabotage." -- A. Stanley Thompson (a pioneer nuclear physicist who later realized the whole situation)
"Any dose is an overdose." -- Dr. John W. Gofman (another pioneer nuclear physicist who saw the light (9.21.1918 - 8.15.2007))
"Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought. To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears. To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool. To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen. To be led by a liar is to ask to be lied to. To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery." -- Octavia Butler (science fiction writer, 7.22.1947 - 2.24.2006)
"If you want real welfare reform, you focus on a good education, good health care, and a good job.

If you want to reduce poverty, you focus on a good education, good healthcare, and a good job.

If you want a stable middle class, you focus on a good education, good health care, and a good job.

If you want to have citizens who can participate in democracy, you focus on a good education, good health care, and a good job.

And if you want to end the violence, you could build a million new prisons and you could fill them up, but you never end this cycle of violence unless you invest in the health and the skill and the intellect and the character of our children. you focus on a good education, good health care and a good job.

And other than that, I don't feel strongly about anything."

-- Paul Wellstone (US Senator, D-Minnesota, 7.21.1944 - 10.25.2002)
"There are no warlike peoples - just warlike leaders." -- Ralph Bunche (8.7.1903 - 12.9.1971)
"Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God." -- Thomas Jefferson
"Please send this to everyone you know!" -- Ace Hoffman (original collector of the above quotes, January, 2008)

This email was sent by:

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Re: Fw: ALERT !! Question/statement on Nuclear Proliferation for Presidential campaign

April 12th, 2008

Dear Readers,

The Democratic Party Caucus is meeting tomorrow, April 13th, 2008. CREED, a long-established California-based environmental organization, has requested suggestions for questions regarding proliferation of both nuclear weapons AND nuclear power plants. Hopefully, the questions will be later asked of the various candidates of BOTH parties. Below are my suggestions, and contact information so you can send your questions in, too.


Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

Ace's Suggested questions for candidates:

"Given the overwhelming evidence of 'linear, no threshold' damage from radioactive particles in the environment, when do you intend to replace nuclear power with environmentally-benign energy sources such as wind power, and nuclear weapons with environmentally-benign weapons that -- no matter how horrible their immediate destruction may be -- at least do not continue their destruction for generations after the war? Better yet, will you place a greater emphasis on peace negotiations than President Bush, who instead, forces other nations into war, and causes nearby nations to quiver with fear and decide to 'go nuclear,' as Iran is doing?"

"Considering that our worst fears about the dangers of low-level radiation, the dangers of proliferation, the dangers of accidents, and the dangers of terrorism are now being proven correct, both through epidemiological studies (that is to say, scientifically), and through world events such as 9-11, how do you intend to replace coal, oil and nuclear energy with alternative, clean, energy sources -- sources which are certainly up to the task, but have met with political roadblocks and financial disincentives instead of the encouragement they need and deserve? Will you be different?"

"Since no private investment group has EVER decided to invest enough money in nuclear power to build even ONE nuclear power plant -- EVER -- without enormous government subsidies and tax breaks, will you pledge that your administration will cancel ALL investments in this money-losing technology, including canceling Price-Anderson so at least these behemoths have to pay their own way when they shop for insurance? Will you recognize the overwhelming scientific evidence showing that nuclear power is dangerous, dirty, inefficient, susceptible to terrorism, and, above all, destroys the democratic principles of this country because it is so secretive and so centralized, and in many cases, so poorly run? Aren't you sick of nuclear proponents who are so sanctimonious they won't even admit that children, infants, and fetuses are far more harmed by radiation than you or I?

"Since Yucca Mountain is opposed by virtually everyone in Nevada as well as their elected officials, as well as by millions of people along the dangerous transportation routes, and since the science behind or underneath Yucca Mountain has not passed 'peer review' and is known to be flawed simply because it makes too many wild assertions about what the future holds to be anything else, and since there is no other possible cleaner way to handle nuclear waste from either nuclear weapons or nuclear power, and since every milligram of radioactive waste is not only in itself a serious health threat, but also has a significant cost associated with protecting the environment from it for thousands or hundreds of thousands of years, are you going to be the American President who admits the failure of an entire concept: That nuclear power is as much a failure as nuclear weapons, and that both have only brought the world misery and despair, lies, cancer, leukemias other health effects, and to the brink of financial ruin? Are you strong enough to be rational about this?"



At 12:47 PM 4/12/2008 -0700, you wrote:
>----- Original Message -----
>From: lyn harris hicks
>To: Creed
>Sent: Saturday, April 12, 2008 12:38 PM
>Subject: Fw: ALERT !! Question/statement on Nuclear Proliferation for Presidential campaign
>----- Original Message -----
>From: Creed
>Sent: Saturday, April 12, 2008 12:21 PM
>Subject: ALERT !! Question/statement on Nuclear Proliferation for Presidential campaign
>Please forgive duplicate reception; this Alert is sent to ALL CREED ALERT lists.



CREED steering group development of a short question on NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION is underway, for use by presidential election campaigners of any political party. It will be revised to an expanded statement on the complex issue. Your participation is welcomed.

We have Democratic Party Caucus attendees' requests for an immediate sample
of the short form question. The Democratic Party Caucus to elect delegates to
the Party presidential candidate selection convention in Denver, in August, is
tomorrow, April 13, at 3 p.m. (go to for more information).
We recognize the question/statement is a need, equally for you who are members of
other political parties.

Because the nuclear proliferation threat, both nuclear armaments and enabling/fuel
nuclear power generation, is twin domestic and international, it should be a major issue in all political party presidential campaigns.

If you are intending, or considering, participation in a Democratic Party Caucus,
tomorrow, please respond to this email, immediate reply email or 949 492 5078.

Whatever your Party or candidate "leaning," please send suggestions for our short-
form and long-form question/statement that we can incorporate in the delegate selection
proceedings tomorrow.

The question/statement will not be posed, as representing CREED, when presented to any individual or group but the CREED steering group may decide to allow recognition
of their role in development of the text when it is presented, after it has been submitted
to our CREED lists for substantive and editorial comment.

Please send this offer to your organization members and friends whom you think might
appreciate this opportunity.

Lyn Harris Hicks, 949 492 5078

"Creed" <>

... And let's try to help in Hawaii, too!

From: "shannon rudolph" <>
Subject: Fwd: DU ALERT ( This Week-end!)

PLEASE FORWARD!!! (mainland friends, too!)

please take a quick minute this week-end to send your agreement with the Sierra Club letter to the elected officials listed below. if possible please add your own short letter. (they take these more seriously)
love, shannon

Dear folks, please urge that Army meetings on depleted uranium include independent resource people. The message below goes to Congresspeople, Governor Lingle, Hawai'i Island state legislators, Mayor Kim, and Hawai'i County Council. Mahalo, Cory Harden

depleted uranium

Dear local government officials--I support this letter--

Dear Colonel Killian,

Please include independent resource people, with full opportunity to ask questions and participate in discussion, in any meetings with public officials on depleted uranium (DU) at Pohakuloa. (Your Project Current Status 14 Mar 08 document says Tad Davis will see "key leaders" April 13-17.)

Given the specialized knowledge needed to accurately assess and remediate DU hazards, and the level of public concern, we feel an independent perspective is called for.

The resource people we recommend are Lorrin Pang and J.D. Thompson.

Dr. Lorrin Pang of Maui is a physician who served 24 years in the Army Medical Corps. He was also a World Health Organization consultant. He is now district health officer for Maui County, but speaks on DU as a private citizen.

J.D. Thompson of Pahoa has a Ph.D. in Biophysics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He retired from the Department of Physics, Augustana College, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where in addition to teaching physics, he was the Radiation Safety Officer for about 25 years. He had radioisotope training at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

We also hope your briefing, and your report to be released to the public, will respond to our unanswered letters of November 18, 2007 and January 15, 2008.

Cory Harden
Sierra Club, Moku Loa group
PO Box 1137
Hilo, Hawaii 96721

This email is from:

** Russell "Ace" Hoffman, Carlsbad CA

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Radioactive Baby Teeth: The Cancer Link by J. J. Mangano (a book review)

April 10th, 2008

Dear Readers,


I own close to 400 books on nuclear power. I've read over a hundred of them completely, in case you're wondering. Take it from me: THIS ONE IS SPECIAL.

Joseph J. Mangano's newest book, Radioactive Baby Teeth: The Cancer Link, is written by a scientist, and is about science, but is hardly cold and dry. Somehow in a mere 149 pages (plus ten pages of references), Mangano has written THE definitive guide to understanding what the radiation debate is all about: How we got where we are, how strong the scientific evidence against nuclear power really is, how bad the political situation really is, and what we've got to do to fix it -- he covers it all.

This book is absolutely monumental in its scope and I urge EVERYONE to immediately purchase a copy. [Subscribers to my newsletter INCLUDING MEDIA may request a FREE COPY directly from me. Or you can spare me the expense and order your own copy directly from the UNPLUG Salem activist group which is handling the sales for Mangano (and who I will be ordering your copy from anyway). Contact details are shown below.]

Mangano is a gifted writer, and Radioactive Baby Teeth: The Cancer Link comes across as the detective story it is. For most of us, by the end, he has established definitively enough WHO the guilty party is -- RADIATION. But HOW can the good guys bring down the bad guys? How can WE stop nuclear power?

His book is how. Send copies of Mangano's book to all your legislators, your governor, your local health officials, etc.. Demand that studies like the Tooth Fairy Project be done for ALL radioactive elements released from nuclear power plants (Mangano's book almost exclusively discusses only Strontium-90: How they've tried to track Sr-90, and what cancers and deaths its presence is correlated with).

I'll give you one example of the sleazy statistical tricks used by pro-nuclear zealots, which Mangano coldly exposes and explains:

My local nuclear power plant, San Onofre, has had exactly ONE study of health effects around the plant done in nearly 40 years of operation. And that ONE study ONLY studied childhood cancer DEATHS at a time when medical breakthroughs were vastly INCREASING THE SURVIVAL RATE of such cancers. Death rates AT THE TIME (no longer) were, in fact, going DOWN.


Okay, I'm getting excited here. You will too. Buy this book. GET EXCITED. Don't just wonder why you, or your parents, or your friends, or your child, or your sibling, or all of them, got cancer. Nuclear power could be the answer, as this book explains.


Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

In addition to his huge collection of nuclear-related books and videos, Hoffman has interviewed more than a thousand scientists on nuclear topics. He is also an award-winning educational software developer whose programs are used in hundreds of universities. His nuclear-related essays have appeared frequently on the Internet.

Contact information for UNPLUG Salem:

Hi all,

You can buy Joe Mangano's book either through the link at the bottom of this email, or directly from the UNPLUG Salem Campaign. If you buy it through UNPLUG, Joe will autograph your copy.

Cost thru UNPLUG is 20.00 plus 4.60 shipping ­ total of 24.60. Please send you check to the address below, or call me with your credit card information. Multiple quantity discounts may be available.

Please let me know how many copies you need.


Norm Cohen

Coalition for Peace and Justice; UNPLUG Salem Campaign, 321 Barr Ave, Linwood; NJ; 08221; 609-601-8583; Cell Phone - 609-335-8176; MySpace


To order Radioactive Baby Teeth: The Cancer Link by Joseph J. Mangano from B&N:

Barnes and Nobel:
Publisher: Radiation and Public Health Project
Pub. Date: October 2007
ISBN-13: 9781566199094
Edition Description: Only From B&N Books

Release information from Joseph J. Mangano:

Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2008 10:32 AM
Subject: New book on baby tooth studies features New Jersey/Oyster Creek

Dear Colleagues:

I am pleased to announce that my latest book Radioactive Baby Teeth: The Cancer Link has just been published and is available for purchase, from Barnes and Noble for $20 (see link below).

The book is the story of studies measuring radioactive Strontium-90 in baby teeth, and how these studies affected public policy. It includes research projects in the U.S. and abroad on fallout from atomic weapons tests, emissions from Chernobyl, and routine emissions from reactors (including our own study near U.S. nuclear plants).

This is the first attempt to describe in-body radioactivity studies in one volume. These efforts exemplify how citizens and scientists can collaborate to generate knowledge that can effectively have an impact on critical public issues. While technical topics are covered, an easy-to-read style ensures that all citizens can understand the book.

Please note that I have devoted an entire chapter to the "New Jersey story", which is an account of the concerns about health risk from the Oyster Creek reactor; the Toms River cancer cluster; the tooth study in New Jersey; and the battle over license extension.

I would appreciate if your organization would post a web site notice on how to purchase the book. Please let me know if you have further ideas.

With many thanks,

Joe Mangano
Executive Director

Radiation and Public Health Project

Contact info for the author of this newsletter appears below...

Quotes collected by Ace Hoffman:

"Nuclear war must be the most carefully avoided topic of general significance in the contemporary world. People are not curious about the details." -- Paul Brians (author; quote is from: Nuclear Holocausts: Atomic War in Fiction)
"When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." -- Sinclair Lewis (first American Nobel Prize winner in Literature, 2.7.1885 - 1.10.1951)
"There is no such thing as a pro-nuclear environmentalist." -- Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa, 1992)
"Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories." -- Sun Tzu (Chinese general b.500 BC)
"The most intolerable reactor of all may be one which comes successfully to the end of its planned life having produced mountains of radioactive waste for which there is no disposal safe from earthquake damage or sabotage." -- A. Stanley Thompson (a pioneer nuclear physicist who later realized the whole situation)
"Any dose is an overdose." -- Dr. John W. Gofman (another pioneer nuclear physicist who saw the light (9.21.1918 - 8.15.2007))
"Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought. To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears. To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool. To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen. To be led by a liar is to ask to be lied to. To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery." -- Octavia Butler (science fiction writer, 7.22.1947 - 2.24.2006)
"If you want real welfare reform, you focus on a good education, good health care, and a good job.

If you want to reduce poverty, you focus on a good education, good healthcare, and a good job.

If you want a stable middle class, you focus on a good education, good health care, and a good job.

If you want to have citizens who can participate in democracy, you focus on a good education, good health care, and a good job.

And if you want to end the violence, you could build a million new prisons and you could fill them up, but you never end this cycle of violence unless you invest in the health and the skill and the intellect and the character of our children. you focus on a good education, good health care and a good job.

And other than that, I don't feel strongly about anything."

-- Paul Wellstone (US Senator, D-Minnesota, 7.21.1944 - 10.25.2002)
"There are no warlike peoples - just warlike leaders." -- Ralph Bunche (8.7.1903 - 12.9.1971)
"Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God." -- Thomas Jefferson
"Please send this to everyone you know!" -- Ace Hoffman (original collector of the above quotes, January, 2008)

This email was sent by:

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA